A report that Ford Motor Co. will end production of its Edge line of mid-sized SUVs has worried employees at the Oakville, Ont., plant that manufactures the vehicles.
The consultancy AutoForecast Solutions said this week that Ford has cancelled plans to build an updated version of its Edge crossover SUV models, according to a report from Automotive News Canada. The company will instead focus on other models, such as a new version of the Bronco. The Oakville Assembly Complex near Toronto currently only builds the Edge and its luxury mid-sized SUV counterpart, the Lincoln Nautilus.
Ford said Tuesday that “we have no plans to exit” the mid-size SUV segment, but declined to comment specifically on the future of the plant. Since this week’s report that Edge production would be wound down, however, plant employees have been scrambling to find answers.
More than 4,000 people work at the Oakville plant. Bob Scott, Unifor’s Oakville plant chairperson, told The Globe and Mail that “this type of news, rumour or otherwise, is very unsettling to say the least.” He and the union have tried to find answers from Ford, he said, but has not been able to confirm or deny whether a closing would happen.
Jerry Dias, Unifor’s national president, said he has been in talks with Ford and said it was too early to tell if the plant would close. “It’s nothing definitive,” he said. “But with bargaining in September, the solution is going to have to be definitive.”
The Oakville plant previously made the crossover Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT crossover SUVs, although they were recently discontinued. Unifor and Ford will enter collective bargaining later this year. "I can assure our members that our priority focus will be on negotiating a future for Oakville Assembly Plant,” Mr. Scott said.
Ford spokesperson Lauren More said in an e-mail that “Edge and the five-passenger midsize SUV segment remain a critical part of Ford’s winning portfolio,” noting that Edge sales rose 3 per cent in the United States in 2019 to 140,000 units sold. Canadian sales rose 4 per cent, she added. She said the company is taking orders for the updated Edge ST, which is also assembled in Oakville.
AutoForecast Solutions said that a revised Edge SUV was scheduled to launch in June, 2023, but that Edge sales were slow in a crowded mid-sized SUV market.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the report of Edge’s cancellation “concerning” at a news conference Tuesday and said he was in contact with the company to ask them to remain in the province. The Premier said that if Ford was concerned about regulation or costs of doing business in Ontario, he would be “banging down their door” once borders reopened to find a solution for the company.
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